Israeli drug developer Urogen Pharma Ltd. (Nasdaq: URGN), whose chairman is Arie Belldegrun, has announced its acquisition of another drug candidate. Urogen has acquired the rights to develop a delayed-release version of a new upper urinary tract cancer drug by another Nasdaq-listed company - Agenus. The idea is to combine Agenus's product with an existing product in Urogen's pipeline. To the combination of these two immunotherapy cancer drugs will be added to Urogen's unique technology for delayed release of drugs in the urinary tract.
Urogen's share price was up 13.6% yesterday following the announcement, pushing its market cap up to $500 million, while Agenus's share price rose 9.3%, boosting its market cap to $535 million.
Urogen's delayed release technology prevents drugs from being washed out of the urinary tract by urine. Urogen's leading products to date were based on existing drugs, with the delayed release of these drugs making it possible to use these drugs for treatment in the urinary tract.
The new combined drug will be a new product hitherto unknown in treatment for urinary tract cancer. Agenus is in the middle of Phase II trials for its product in the deal, an antibody for treating cancer with immunotherapy. The product is designed for use against various types of cancer, especially cervical cancer. Agenus hopes to submit its drug for approval for treatment of cervical cancer in 2020.
In addition to the company's delayed release technology, Urogen's product contains an immunotherapy drug developed by Urogen. This product is designated for treatment of especially malignant tumors in the urinary tract. The combination of the two drugs is designed to achieve better results than treatment using either molecule individually without the delayed release mechanism.
Urogen is paying $10 million immediately for the rights to develop the product, and will pay $115 million more if Agenus's product meets several milestones on the way to being approved. After being approved, if the product succeeds in the market, $85 million more will be paid according to marketing milestones, plus a fairly high 14-20% royalty rate. Urogen will assume responsibility for the process of developing the product and will market it, except for a few countries in South America in which Agenus can market it.
At the same time, Urogen is preparing to submit its leading product, delayed release chemotherapy in the upper urinary tract, for approval. If approval is given, marketing will begin over the coming year. Urogen is managed by president and CEO Liz Barrett, former CEO of Novartis Oncology.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 13, 2019
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